Review of the Escape Plus Lounge at Manchester Airport Terminal 2

In order to complete our collection of reviews of airport lounges across the UK, we’ve asked for the help of our readers.

Reader Anne kindly sent us a review of the Escape Plus Lounge at Manchester Airport Terminal 2.

You can find all of our other UK airport lounge reviews here.  We’re making good progress now!

Over to Anne:

“We flew out of Manchester T2, heading for Boston on one of the £999 Virgin Upper Class fares which Head for Points covered back in January. Virgin doesn’t have a Clubhouse at Manchester unfortunately, the invite card to the 3rd party lounge you receive at check in even apologises for this, so we headed for the Terminal 2 Escape Plus lounge instead.

escape lounge manchester T2

The lounge is situated on the 1st floor of the main departures area.  Coming out of the lift we followed the sign for Escape, only to find ourselves at the wrong lounge.  There are actually two Escape lounges, one for Priority Pass, Lounge Club and paid entry; and this one (Escape Plus) for business class passengers only, primarily Virgin Atlantic and Qatar Airways.

It’s fair to say this causes a huge amount of confusion. Not only did we initially go to the wrong lounge but also lost count of the number of people refused entry and sent to the other location during the hour and a half we were there. I took a picture of the signage to the main lounge and entry to the business class lounge door to illustrate just how confusing this is! There is no information outside either lounge to explain entry requirements so I would say there is significant scope for improvement here.

When we arrived at around 12.15 on a Saturday both the main Escape and the neighbouring Aspire lounge were closed to Priority Pass and walk ups. During our abortive entry to the main Escape lounge we heard people being told to wait an hour and try again. I’d been hoping to drop into the Aspire lounge as well but it wasn’t to be, although by the time we left at 13.45 it was available again.

Having finally found our way into the business class Escape Plus lounge we found a compact space with seating for around 45-50 people, so compact that the front desk was situated entirely inside the lounge itself. The lounge was about 80% full with only a Qatar Airways Doha flight and our Virgin Atlantic Boston flight supplying the visitors so far as I could tell.

escape lounge manchester T2

The lounge was clean and tidy and the decor looked fresh. The temperature was a bit chilly for our taste but I appreciate this is a very personal preference. There were a couple of large windows to one side but the principal view was back into the main terminal, although planes at departure gates could just about be seen outside.

escape lounge manchester T2

The selection of newspapers was limited, with only the i and Telegraph available; the magazine selection was similarly underwhelming.

escape lounge manchester T2

Wifi was passable if a bit pedestrian but USB charging points were available at each table, cleverly incorporated into the base of the drinks menu holder.

escape lounge manchester T2

There are no toilets for the exclusive use of this lounge, instead they are located outside and shared with the other Escape lounge and the Aspire lounge, unsurprisingly they were busy when we visited.

There was a good choice of hot and cold food available for lunch. Although we didn’t try it, the curry seemed very popular.

escape lounge manchester T2

The selection of cold meat and salad items was very acceptable and gluten free bread was available on request.

escape lounge manchester T2

The most visibly appealing section of the food offering was probably the cake stand, they tasted pretty good as well.

escape lounge manchester T2

Drinks were entirely self service, champagne had to be paid for but everything else was complimentary. There was the usual style of coffee machine and plenty of fresh fruit juice.

escape lounge manchester T2

Conclusion

One positive point to note was that lounge staff were doing last calls, there were plenty of screens as well though so really no excuse for not making your flight!

Overall the T2 business class Escape Plus lounge is a perfectly acceptable place to pass an hour or two, and certainly better than the main terminal which is cramped and difficult to move around. Not having a Clubhouse at Manchester does detract from the Virgin Upper Class experience somewhat, but this is of course partially reflected in the cheaper prices available compared to flying with Virgin from Heathrow and Gatwick.”

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Comments

  1. James Ward says:

    Isn’t it bizarre that they don’t use the adjacent Virgin Holidays lounge? Maybe the vibe is just too “leisure” for business class travellers?

    • gumshoe says:

      Precisely that. The V-Room is basically aimed at families flying to MCO. It’s not a Business Class lounge.

      We can but hope the redevelopment of T2 includes providing a Clubhouse. Since VS has expanded its route network from MAN it’s become a glaring omission in the network.

  2. Champagne being chargeable is a bit poor if the lounge is restricted to business class passengers only! They would have got free champagne in the respective airline branded lounges!

    • Aeronaut says:

      As ever, one could ask the question as to why business travellers need champagne on metaphotical tap!

  3. Mr(s) Entitled says:

    When we last flew out of T2 at Easter the main lounge was full and we were directed to this lounge as the “overflow” with our PP. Decent offering, reasonably pleasant space, but nothing special.

    Having just done MAN-LVS-JFK-MAN and used the PP pass at each stop I am completely underwhelmed by the offering. That it comes ‘free’ with my Amex Plat means that I don lose any sleep over it but I wouldn’t consider paying directly for the privilege.

    • In general I’ve found most PP lounges to be fairly decent now (certainly the Aspire & No 1 offerings) compared to a few years ago. However I never previously had issues with access being denied for PP cardholders – definitely more noticeable lately and if this continues it will seriously dent the usefulness of this benefit (& it’s been something I’ve been using more since RFS pricing doubled for the regions)

  4. Peter K says:

    Thank you Anika for the information about gluten free bread being an option 🙂

  5. The Escape lounges at East Midlands Airport, Stansted and Manchester are all being revamped with catering brought in-house. The good news is that there will be a larger selection of free food and alcoholic drinks. https://www.hospitalityandcateringnews.com/2017/09/mag-brings-escape-lounge-catering-house-part-brand-refresh/